3 Ways Your Annual Plan Impacts Marketing Outcomes

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The leaves are changing, winter is coming, Q4 has begun … 

You’ve guessed it — annual planning season has arrived. 

While annual planning includes poring over KPIs and new growth targets, more importantly, it means getting aligned with your broader organization about long-term objectives and goals. Ultimately, your organization’s annual plan is the north star your marketing strategy needs to chart its course — 80% of planned marketing efforts should be in support of an organization’s strategic goals.

That begs the question: Do you really know what the strategic goals of your organization are? In this blog we’ll break down why it’s so important for marketing leaders to build an effective annual plan that serves their function and the broader organization. 

1) Avoid Siloing Business Functions By Getting Clear on Expectations

The broader purpose behind annual planning is to coalesce an executive team around your organization’s strategic initiatives. Without an annual plan, a business can end up with different functions (marketing, sales, development, etc.) pursuing their own siloed objectives over time. 

While that might sound rather obvious, silos happen more often than you think. Gartner’s CMO report on budget and strategy found that in order to achieve their long-term vision, a staggering 71% of CMOs agree that they need to reconsider the role of marketing to get there. 

In other words, current marketing approaches aren’t serving the long-term objectives of nearly three-fourths of businesses. Yikes. 

How can you avoid this? By clearly defining the broader, long-term objectives of your organization in order to clearly define what role marketing will play to achieve them.

2) Define Marketing Goals Based on Your Annual Goals

An effective annual plan eliminates the guesswork over what goals you should set for your marketing organization. When all of your goals are in service of the broader “why” rather than in service of your “marketing why,” it becomes easier to eliminate areas that you no longer need and continue doing what will produce actual results instead.

Why is it so important to set marketing goals that serve your organization rather than marketing alone? So you can prove that marketing is effective, not just that marketing is happening.

For example, one survey found that 48% of businesses who are doing digital marketing have no defined strategy. Another survey discovered that 30% of marketers are seeing average-to-no returns on their digital marketing investments. 

Unsurprisingly, marketing efforts yield few returns when the purpose behind those efforts is simply to do marketing for the sake of marketing. The only way forward is to create a rigorous annual planning process that will define what success looks like for marketing, yes, and also for the organization as a whole.

3) Create an Annual Planning Discipline

Finally, building rigor around annual planning ensures that the productivity of the executive team is greater than the sum of its parts. Without some kind of discipline surrounding your planning process, it’s unlikely that you’ll see the best outcomes for marketing and beyond.

In order to improve your annual planning process, Forrester research recommends this 7-step process:

  1. Determine business objectives.
  2. Decide the marketing intent behind each objective.
  3. Set marketing priorities based on your broader objectives.
  4. Define goals and metrics to measure performance.
  5. Review and propose what actions and marketing initiatives will execute the plan.
  6. Consider dependencies and risks that could derail or affect the plan.
  7. Establish governance procedures to audit the plan performance and make changes as needed.

As you can see, going into annual planning with intention and rigor will improve the likelihood that your marketing goals succeed by serving the broader organization. Without proper attention and strategy behind the planning process, you might find your team in a silo that works to serve its own goals and objectives rather than company-wide ones.

At Inverta, we provide the resources your team needs for strategic initiative planning, from the right frameworks and processes to get aligned on how your annual marketing plan fits inside overall business goals. Our expertise can eliminate areas of confusion and inefficiencies, leading your team into the best outcomes possible.